To find out more about the Wisconsin Great River Road please check out the website www.WiGRR.com.
Alan: All along the Great River Road – in Stockholm, Pepin, Maiden Rock – fall is absolutely the most spectacular time of year to come here. It’s beautiful all year. But fall, because of the mix of hardwoods and these beautiful bluffs and the reflection on the water, and the way the road weaves along the shore of Lake Pepin, there is not a more beautiful fall destination
Bob: Where is Stockholm?
Alan: On the Mississippi River. We’re in an area we call ‘The West Coast of Wisconsin.’ Do you know where Red Wing, Minnesota is?
Alan: We are 17 miles downriver from Red Wing on the Wisconsin side.
Bob: What are some of the fun things to do there?
Alan: Here, it’s a lot about the scenery, and it’s a lot about the shopping and the food. Stockholm is a town of 66 people, but there are about 15 little shops, galleries, boutiques, cafes, and of course our pie shop. It’s kind of like a movie set. The other little villages along the area are filled with all kinds of cool stuff and great restaurants and shops. Then there’s the bluffs and the river and the lake. It’s incredible.
Bob: Did you say 66 people?
Alan: Sixty-six people, yeah.
Bob: I couldn’t imagine just having 66 [people]. Is it a block long?
Alan: Basically, it’s a block wide and a block long. It’s two streets wide, and there’s one street that divides at the highway and the county road that goes out of town. [It’s] the smallest village in the smallest county in Wisconsin. And it’s become one of the top day trip destinations in the region.
Bob: What makes it a day trip destination, do you think?
Alan: The drive has a lot to do with it. It’s just a mind-blowingly beautiful drive along the bluffs and the river. I don’t remember what year it was – it was in 2012 or 2013, something like that – The Huffington Post did a big competition for the most beautiful drive in America. Our stretch beat out Highway 1 and the Kona Highway for the most beautiful drive in America.
Bob: Which part of the drive – the entire Wisconsin Great River Road?
Alan: It is all beautiful, but what’s considered the most scenic section is actually between Bay City, which is just outside of Red Wing, to Pepin. And literally, the most beautiful six miles are Maiden Rock to Stockholm.
Bob: Is that why you decided to move there?
Alan: Exactly. It started as a second home in the area, which is how a lot of people start because it’s the opposite direction of the traffic for second homes in the Twin Cities. And it is magnificently beautiful – it’s all the food options and everything else.
Bob: So how did you start the Stockholm Pie Company and General Store?
Alan: Well, the Stockholm Pie Company started almost 11 years ago now. My sister, who lived in Chicago, moved here. She had come to visit my spouse and I, and [she] fell in love with it, just like the rest of us around here. And lo and behold, it turned out that we had this little tiny space in the building that we had just bought where an art gallery was. We thought, what the heck? So we put in the kitchen, and it was supposed to be a little weekend gig for her. It didn’t last to the weekend gig very long. It soon expanded and expanded. It originally started in a space that was about 250 square feet, and it now encompasses about 3,000 square feet. It seats about 60. [There are] multiple production kitchens. We also have a second location in Red Wing. It caught on, is the gentlest way to put it. We were kind of discovered by the Road Food Guide, which then led us to Splendid Table and Gourmet Magazine. It just keeps going on and on from there.
Bob: What I think is great is you can seat 60 people in a town of 66.
Alan: Isn’t that amazing? And our performing arts center will hold 120, so how many places have a performing arts center with twice the capacity of the town?
Bob: I’m guessing Stockholm, Wisconsin, is probably the only place in the world that has that.
Bob: What do you like best about living in a river town?
Alan: A lot of it has to do with the scenic element of it – the bluffs, the views. It is truly magical. There’s really nothing else like it the way we are situated – not just on the river, but where the river becomes Lake Pepin. It gets very wide here. It’s actually the widest natural spot on the Mississippi. It has created this environment of bluff and water that doesn’t exist anywhere else. And there is a whole series of little villages in Bay City, Maiden Rock, Stockholm, [and] Pepin. Tourism kind of took root in Stockholm, and it’s kind of spreading along the ‘West Coast of Wisconsin.’
Bob: Does Stockholm have a website?
Alan: It does: stockholmwisconsin.com
Bob: Does Stockholm Pies have a website?
Alan: It does: stockholmpieandgeneralstore.com